Prepare yourself for robot editors

BBC News

Worrying about robot writers is so three months ago; the next threat to journalists' paychecks is robot editors. Wikipedia couldn't exist without them, BBC News' Daniel Nasaw reports. ClueBot NG prowls the massive site looking for vandalism, like a line about the human penis in an article about courts. "It is one of several hundred bots patrolling Wikipedia at any given time," Nasaw writes.

"Wikipedia would be a shambles without bots," a Wikipedia administrator known on the site as Hersfold writes in an email. ...

They delete vandalism and foul language, organise and catalogue entries, and handle the reams of behind-the-scenes work that keep the encyclopaedia running smoothly and efficiently and keep its appearance neat and uniform in style.

Nasaw tells us not to worry, quoting programmer Brad Jorsch: "It takes human judgement to write an article or proof an article or even clean up grammar and spelling."

But robots already write lots of articles, and you can purchase a plugin for Word that checks your work against the AP Stylebook. If those robots start wearing cardigans and drinking herbal tea, copy editors will have even more reasons to be nervous.

  • Andrew Beaujon

    Andrew Beaujon reported on the media for Poynter from 2012 to 2015. He was previously arts editor at and managing editor of Washington City Paper. He's the author of the 2006 book "Body Piercing Saved My Life," about Christian rock and evangelical Christian culture.


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